Essex-based farm manager, Nigel Clayson, rates the Vari-Scary MkII bird scarer from Techneat as one of the best buys for controlling grazing birds
With so many different types of bird deterrents currently available to farmers, choosing the right option from a long list that includes pole-mounted kites, gas cannons, traditional replica hanging crows or even sophisticated, and often expensive, bio-acoustic sound dispersal systems can be a time-consuming process according to Mr Clayson at RS & WR Gosling, a 607ha arable farm, based at Takeley near Stansted Airport.
“All deterrents have their respective fan bases, but ultimately, as with most farm equipment purchases, it comes down to reliability, price and performance. Wind-powered bird scarers are great – when it’s windy, but not so great when there’s no wind, so reliability and investing in a deterrent that can consistently do the job in all weather conditions has to be a major consideration,” he said.
Out of all the options available, and based on previous experience, Nigel favours the propane gas cannon as the best and most reliable solution for most farms, given they neither rely on wind or high visibility to provide reliable levels of protection against pigeons, crows and other pests.
“I’ve tried many different gas cannon bird scarers over the years, but the one that stands out was the Vari-Scary MkII that I purchased at the Lamma event in 2019. It’s lightweight, with an integral handle for easy transportability, has a tough weather-proof polyethylene plastic body with water-proof seals to protect the battery compartment, and takes about 10 minutes to set up using a simple control panel to programme when the gun fires throughout the day.
“Settings are limited to between 5am and 9pm to avoid anti-social night noise disturbance, and with good positioning, one Vari-Scary gas cannon can cover a decent field size of 13-16ha.
“The key is positioning the bird scarer with the wind following in the same direction, allowing the gunfire sound to carry as far as possible to achieve maximum range. The Vari-Scary has an electronic ignition system that creates multiple sparks in the steel combustion chamber of the cannon’s barrel reducing any possibility of a misfire.
“This gives it a significant advantage over older gas cannons that often rely on a single spark from a spark plug. The older models are also far more susceptible to dampness, making them vulnerable to multiple misfires.
“With normal daily use, the Vari-Scary’s battery should last just over a month between charges – however, you can upgrade to a solar panel charger option that will trickle charge the internal battery, potentially doubling the battery life between charges, given a reasonable amount of sunlight.
Having successfully used the Vari-Scary MkII to reduce bird grazing damage on both oilseed rape and spring peas, it’s a proven and cost-effective system for protecting crops” concluded Mr Clayson.